Basketball Player Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe back in NBA after 2½ years away

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch was asked a couple hours before Monday’s game with Boston at Target Center how much he thought recently signed Greg Monroe would be able to play in his first NBA game in more than 2½ years.

“I don’t know,” Finch said, checking his watch. “Just met him about 30 minutes ago.”

Such is life in the NBA during COVID-19. On the day multiple reports said the league had updated its health and safety protocols with the aim of making quarantine times shorter in many instances, Finch and the rest of the league was still trying to function when he really doesn’t know who will be available until shortly before tipoff.

For example, the Celtics lost Jayson Tatum to the protocols on Monday, bringing their total to nine players. NBA official Tony Brothers was unavailable to work the game for the same reason. The Wolves were without top scorers Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell as well as Naz Reid, Taurean Prince, Jarred Vanderbilt and McKinley Wright IV. Both Patrick Beverley and Josh Okogie returned to practice Sunday. Okogie played Monday, but Finch said Beverley wasn’t quite ready to return; he should be available for Tuesday’s game against New York.

Wolves assistants Micah Nori and Elston Turner were also missing from the Wolves bench Monday, prompting the Wolves to bring Jeff Newton andTim Lewis up from the Iowa Wolves of the G League.

The fact Finch said Jake Layman did some work at the 5 during a walkthrough Monday meant Monroe arriving later in the afternoon, and being available, was big.

The 6-11 Monroe signed his 10-day contract, then donned a uniform. The 31-year-old played in 12 games for Capital City in the G League this year, averaging 10.4 points. He is the third player the Wolves have signed to 10-day deals, along with Rayjon Tucker and Chris Silva.

Finch said Monroe’s ability to pass from the high post and ability to operate in the post would fit in with what the Wolves liked to do. “I don’t think there’s a huge disruption there, in terms of the style of play we have,” Finch said.

And Monroe proved to be more than just a fill-in in the 108-103 victory over the Celtics. He played 25 minutes and collected 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

By Kent Youngblood Star Tribune